26. Denial: no awareness at all; repression of memories; pretending; minimizing (it wasn’t that bad); having dreams or memories (maybe it’s my imagination) (these are actually flashbacks, which is how recall begins); strong, deep, inappropriate negative reactions to a person, place or event; sensory flashes (a light, a place, a physical feeling) without any sense of their meaning; remembering surroundings but not the event. Memory may start with the least threatening event or perpetrator. Actual details of abuse may never be fully remembered; however, much recovery is possible without complete recall. Your inner guide will release memories at the pace you can handle.
This list item is more like a description of denial, repression, flashbacks, and how memories of abuse re-emerge than a mere listing of a few issues.
I had never forgotten some abuse that my oldest brother had done to me. I thought that was all that I was dealing with. I was in so much pain and had so many health issues I could not work for six months and that is what drove me into therapy. I don’t think that I ever would have done that without such an obvious sign that I needed help.
Unfortunately I went to a clinic and they suggested a male therapist, who knew a lot about relaxation, cognitive behavior techniques etc that they thought could help me with addressing the outer symptoms of what I was dealing with. I had mentioned a history of child sexual abuse and that I did not want to see a male therapist. They talked me into seeing one. So I was derailed on addressing any child sexual abuse for over a year when I went to another clinic and presented with the same issues.
What followed was a series of disclosures to myself through flashbacks, with the easiest to deal with, accept, cope, and heal from emerging first. Looking back I think how affected I was by my flashbacks, how much they wiped me out for weeks, how little equipped I felt to cope with them or to do any meaningful healing. And how easy they were by comparison to remembering and healing from ritual abuse and mother daughter sexual abuse.
I am so glad that I did not know what trajectory my healing process would need to take at that time. I would have been wholly unprepared to deal with it all. I do recall how I thought it would be great if I could just remember it all and get it over with. Now I appreciate the denial that allowed me to remember, heal, and grow through a longer time span.
I remember back then how so many other survivors were hoping that their healings would be over and done with in six months. The first female therapist that I saw actually thought that I should be done in six months. I told her that is a fantasy. I didn’t realize that some therapist actually say such drivel to their clients and stopped seeing her.
I thought that it was totally appropriate and normal for me to minimize my life of abuse. After all there was so much of it that I did not even remember yet. But not a professional therapist who was recommended to me who was knowledgable about trauma psychology. Oh and she had only wanted to see me once every three weeks, so I was already looking for a new therapist before she told me in my fifth month that we should stop after two more appointments.
I still have over-reactions and triggers to certain things. I know those are clues. They are always right. I always figure them out in time. The remembering process has lessened the full impact of those reactions and triggers. But I would not say that they are a thing of the past.
Remembering the mother daughter sexual abuse has allowed me to let go of so much self-hatred. My mother and my family had always treated me as though I was defective, deep in my character, my personality, my soul and that I was born that way. Remembering allows me to see the truth, she did this to me. I know the truth now and nothing will ever be the same.